Big names at Foxwoods’ World Poker Finals in Connecticut

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Pro Victor Ramdin came out on top of the World Poker Finals opener at Foxwoods Resort Casino in October at Mashantucket, Conn., pocketing $65K and the trophy after a six-player chop ended the $600 kickoff that drew 1,079 players.

But the signature event of the series was the $2,500 championship that saw 107 runners. After three days of action, Leonard J. Sande earned the crown and $67,200, vaulting his career earnings past $1M, putting him No. 14 on Connecticut’s all-time money list. 

Other winners from the series included Glenn Stone, Eric Siegel, James Paluszek, Leonard Cortellino, Veton Balidemaj, Seunghwan Lee (two titles), Andrew Latto, Nick Monaco, Dan Caridi, Lawrence Zito, Ed Buker, Ryan Slowik, Ken Gambella, Xiaojie Zhang, Mark Walsh, Francine Lee, Charles Lapointe, Brandon Brown and Soukha Kachittavong.

The popular MegaStack series runs Dec. 6-16 with 12 events and $800K in guarantees. Two tourneys highlight this series: Event 1 has a $500K guarantee for $600 and 25K stacks. Blinds start at 30 minutes and go to 40 at Level 9.  There are six starting flights Dec. 6-8 at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. 

All players who make Day 2 on Monday the 9 will be in the money. Dec. 14 is the two-day $1,500 championship. With flights at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., players start with 40K chips with 40-minute blinds. 

MOHEGAN SUN: Sundays at 11 a.m. is the $230 black-chip bounty event in Uncasville, Conn. Tuesday evenings feature a $120 superstack with a $10K guarantee and 30K stacks. If you enjoy mixed games, every Thursday is an action-packed
$8-$16 HORSE game.

Massachusetts

ENCORE BOSTON HARBOR: Saturdays at 11 a.m. is a $30K guarantee for $360. Players get 30K chips and 30-minute blinds. For $240, there’s a Saturday $20K guarantee at 11 a.m.

MGM SPRINGFIELD: The 23-table room runs daily high hands, splashed pots and royal jackpots. Thursdays at 6 is a popular $5-$10 NLHE with a $500 minimum buy-in and no max.

New York

RIVERS SCHENECTADY: The Holiday Deepstack Series starts on Dec. 26 with four events as buy-ins are $200-$570. Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. is a women’s event for $55 with free mimosas and food. 

SENECA NIAGARA: Flop a royal and get paid and $1K, $500 if you hit it on the turn and $250 on the river. Saturdays (1 p.m.-11 p.m.), the high hand of the hour can win $1K. 

TURNING STONE RESORT CASINO: Taylor Dean-Lipson bested a 280-player field in the $300 buy-in $75K guarantee October Poker Weekend series event. The Woodstock, N.Y., native took home $17K-plus, bringing his lifetime earnings to $155K-plus. Daniel Heyman and Brian Dugan rounded out the top three. 

Atlantic City-Philadelphia

PARX: The Big Stax $500 tourney drew 927 runners and after five days it was Tam Nguyen who took the trophy and $76,500 after an ICM chop.

“It’s very hard to make a deep run in a tournament,” Nguyen said. “Usually I min-cash so I’m very excited to get the win; it has been a long time coming.”

The victory marks the first for Nguyen and is his largest live tournament cash. His second-largest came in 2010 for $41,967 when he finished 307th in the World Series of Poker Main Event. This cash brings his career earnings to 131,766.

In the Big Stax $1,100 event, Grigoriy Shvarts outplayed his final two opponents for the $82,549 win, topping a field of 370. 

SUGARHOUSE NO MORE: The former SugarHouse Casino is now Rivers Casino Philadelphia. 

MOHEGAN SUN POCONO: The casino has a new state-of-the-art poker room on second floor. It features eight tables, flatscreens and is non-smoking. The room offers bad-beat jackpots for tournaments and cash games. 

BORGATA: The Atlantic City poker room hosts a $150 re-entry event on Christmas at 5 p.m. and on New Year’s Eve at 5.

Maryland

The World Series of Poker Circuit at Horseshoe Baltimore ended its visit Oct. 14, awarding 15 rings, including the $1,700 main event, which was the largest tourney of the series and went to Faisal Siddiqui. 

It was his first ring and he earned $113,143 after topping 300-plus players and a final table packed with pros. He finished second in the 2014-15 circuit main here at the Horseshoe so this was a nice improvement for him, especially since he was initially a little overwhelmed with the talent at the final table.

“A lot of the messages I was getting was that the others are equally afraid of you as you are afraid of them,” he said. “That kind of helped me get my nerves right.”

Siddiqui, 51, works in software and technology, but said the great thing about poker is he can come to events as an amateur and compete against professionals.

“There is no other sport in the world that is like this,” he said. “I also play golf. I could never beat Phil Mickelson at golf. But at the final table today, there were multiple pros and I was able to beat them, which is a great feeling. It’s not about the money, it’s about playing the best in the world and coming out ahead.”

LIVE HOTEL AND CASINO: A remarkable 16 players decided recently to chop $294K in a WPT undercard event in Hanover, Md. Each player took home $18,386 from the $360 event that closed out the WPT series. 

“It’s their tournament; that’s always our philosophy here at Live,” tournament director Jason Heidenthal said. “It’s their money; they can do whatever they want with it.”

The 10-flight event drew 1,652 entries, leaving it just a handful of entries shy of the $500K guarantee, according to Heidenthal. However, given the overlap with WSOPC at Horseshoe Baltimore just up Highway 295, Heidenthal said he wasn’t losing any sleep over the slight miss.

Michael Wang had an excellent series, final-tabling the main event and winning two other tourneys. 

He won Event 5 for $9,522 and then, three days later, won Event 8 for $15,156. These were Wang’s first two rings, getting four cashes, finishing in the top four of four events, including fourth place in the main event. Because of this success, Wang won the casino championship, earning entry into the Global Championship.

Delaware

DELAWARE PARK: There’s a $120 event with a $5K guarantee Dec. 1 at noon. Players get 20K chips and 20-minute levels. As far as promotions, the Mega Football Box Pool runs all season on Sundays at 1, 4 and 8 p.m. 

Maine

HOLLYWOOD CASINO BANGOR: There are progressive high hands and a royal-flush jackpot. Also, the $300 Tournament of Champions finale is Dec. 8 at 10 a.m. S

Meet James Brady

James Brady got his masters degree in finance at Rutgers University but couldn’t find work in his field so he turned to poker as a profession.

As a daily player, what’s your cash and tournament return on investment? I make about $25 an hour at cash and 50 percent return on tournaments.

You just recently won your first Borgata trophy. You’ve been mostly a cash player in the past. Would you consider yourself a tournament player now? I actually started playing poker in tournaments. I came to cash after and worked my way up from $1-$2 to $2-$5. I would play more tournaments, but traveling is tricky for me. I play cash most days and take breaks to play all the local major tournaments.

What’s next in your poker career and where do you see yourself in 10 years? I would like to win a ring or a World Poker Tour title and play more main events. In 10 years, I hope to be one of the top Pennsylvania tournament players. — Jo Kim

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